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NICU “Graduates” Find Extra Help at Good Shepherd

December 06, 2012

positive sleep habits

Even after receiving the vital and focused care of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), some infants can benefit from inpatient rehabilitation as part of a successful transition home. Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital Pediatric Unit offers the attention and assistance needed for NICU graduates and newborns with medically-complex conditions and their families to make a safe, less stressful and more prepared transition to home. Specialized programs include the feeding and complex respiratory programs.

Treatment Opportunity

Some of the conditions infants may still need medical assistance for after a stay in the NICU are:

  • prematurity
  • low birth weight
  • developmental delay
  • loss of vision
  • congenital and or acquired lung disease
  • GI reflux
  • suck and or swallowing difficulty
  • oral aversions
  • prenatal substance abuse exposure
  • dependency on gastronomy feedings

The Biggest Challenges in the Smallest Patients

One of the biggest challenges that NICU infants have to overcome during the early phases of their life is the lack of auto regulation – the ability to calm themselves – during interaction with the environment or with others. Many babies demonstrate various degrees of irritability when they are subjected to sensory stimuli such as touch, noise, light, textures and taste, or when they are placed in various positions such as face downward, side lying and on their backs.

For these patients to acquire age-appropriate skills, they need to learn how to react to these various stimuli and situations positively. Therefore, Good Shepherd’s clinical team members strive to create a pleasant experience when introducing new sensory input or new positions and activities that assist these infants in gaining crucial developmental skills that may be delayed.

Initially, treatments are limited to the patient’s room under low lighting with silence or low, soothing music. Methodically scheduled interventions in small increments of time and creating a patient-specific environment are a large part of the care. As infants show increased tolerance, therapies may be moved to another room with normal lighting and auditory toys. Activities eventually can occur in a more communal area within the unit, which facilitates socialization and developmental skills.

Positive outcomes from inpatient pediatric rehabilitation include:

  • increased strength and endurance
  • tolerance to sensory stimulation
  • reduction of need for supplemental nutrition
  • resolution to hypertension
  • improved oral intake
  • improved self-regulation psychosocial skills
  • improved ability to tolerate face-down and sitting positions
  • medication weaning
  • developmental facilitation
  • family and caregiver education

In those first months of life, it may take several phases of care for a child to reach optimal outcomes and the best possible future. Good Shepherd’s Pediatric Unit is proud to fill the gap between the NICU and a newborn’s successful transition home.

To request an appointment with one of our pediatrics specialists, please call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422).